Cloche de Cartier Returns

The bell-shaped watch is back for 2021, in a year that sees the Tank become a Must.

Apr 07, 2021 | By Ashok Soman

As always, at least in recent years, we begin the Cartier year in new watches with something from Cartier Privé, a proven favourite of collectors. This year is no different, with the instantly recognisable Cloche de Cartier watch taking the spotlight. There are a couple of versions of the Cloche de Cartier to discuss, and an explanation of the name, but we will make space in this story to briefly cover some of the other notable 2021 releases from Cartier. Most notably, this will be the Tank Must, and the Tank in general, as well as some anticipated new highlights from Pasha de Cartier. First though, the Cloche de Cartier… 

Cartier calls this shape a bell, which is literally what cloche means in french. The shape itself first appeared in Cartier watches in the 1920s (1922 according to the brand, and confirmed by auction house Christie’s) and has remained an integral part of the Maison’s identity ever since. You may never have seen a cloche model but it feels apparent that it must be Cartier. The alignment of the dial too is unusual, with the 12 o’clock position being along the same axis as the crown. This is not a contemporary touch; the cloche model has always been idiosyncratic. For 2021, there are standard versions and also skeletonised ones, much like previous Cartier Prive creations. All are 31.75 x 28.75mm, and we can report that they are quite slim, though the manufacture has not revealed the thickness of the cases.

In the skeletonised versions, the manufacture calibre 1917 MC is reworked into a form-fitting proposition called Calibre 9626. One of the key differences here is the thickness at 3.55mm for 9626 and 2.9mm for 1917 MC. Otherwise, these movements share similar properties, being manual-winding, with a power reserve on the short side at 38 hours. 

Elsewhere, the Tank comes in for major changes – calibre 1917 MC makes an appearance here in the Tank Louis Cartier models, which are in two handsome variants as seen here (yellow gold and pink gold). These models are excellent dress watches that actually dispense with the second hand. Then there are the rest of the new Tank models, which are now called Tank Must (in a nod to Must de Cartier), and there are many variants. The biggest newsmakers will be those with the Solarbeat photovoltaic quartz movement that boasts a battery lifespan of 16 years. These models are also marked by unique straps, for the first time made of plant material (40% of apple fruit waste). Undoubtedly, these will form the backbone of a sustainability story at Cartier.

We close out this first-look with a couple of Pasha de Cartier models, one a 41mm chronograph and the other a 30mm feminine piece. The chronograph is perhaps the most anticipated watch, with everyone sensing its imminent arrival. It is powered by the automatic 1904 -CH MC movement. We shall have much more to say about this model later, as well as the Tank Must, for which we have barely scratched the surface.

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